FILE PHOTO: The former president of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, arrives at a hotel, a temporary headquarters of the regional parliament of Central America, for his oath as a new member, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, January 14, 2020. REUTERS / Stringer
CITY OF GUATEMALA (Reuters) – Guatemalan prosecutors issued warrants on Wednesday against five former lawmakers, including a close ally of Jimmy Morales, who left office as president just a few hours earlier, and a special forces soldier who ran for the presidency last year.
Prosecutors executed the arrest warrants in a series of raids, capturing one of the former legislators, who enjoyed immunity from prosecution until Tuesday, when they finished their terms in Congress.
“I am not going to cover up any leaks,” said new president Alejandro Giammattei in an interview with Mexican television network Televisa, when asked about his government’s willingness to fight corruption.
Several former officials and legislators, including Morales and his vice president, rushed to take an oath as members of the regional parliament of Central America (Parlacen) on Tuesday night, hours after leaving office, despite the efforts of throwing protesters to stop them.
In the regional parliament they also enjoy some protection against prosecution. Morales’s name was not among the arrest warrants despite an investigation against him for violations of electoral financing. He denies acting badly.
Former presidential candidate Estuardo Galdamez, a former right-wing member of the dreaded special forces of Kaibil, who ran for the Morales party in the 2019 elections, was among those on the prosecutor’s wanted list. It was not found in the morning raids.
Another objective was Othmar Sanchez, a close ally of Morales. Sánchez is wanted for fraud and money laundering in a case that also involves Morales’ brother and son.
Giammattei’s strategy to eradicate corruption from political life will be closely monitored after Morales expelled the UN-backed anti-corruption agency that led the investigation into him and his family.
Most center-right politicians, including Giammattei, came to see the corruption corps, known as CICIG, as an unacceptable violation of Guatemala’s sovereignty. Giammattei said he will quickly create an anti-corruption force linked to the president’s office.
Sofia Menchu report; Written by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Jonathan Oatis